Among the films that every fashion lover should see, “La Piscine” is one of my favorite ones. Romy Schneider, Alain Delon, the French Riviera, the sixties… How perfect! I’ve been dreaming of spending a summer holiday in St. Tropez since I watched this film for the first time.
“La Piscine”, also known as “The Swimming Pool”, is an Italian-French production directed by Jacques Deray. It was shot in 1968 and released in 1969 and it’s been very successful both in France and in Italy.
The plot is simple. Marianne (played by Romy Schneider) and Paul (played by Alain Delon) are a couple who is spending summer in a villa in the hills of St. Tropez. When Marianne’s friend, and maybe ex boyfriend, Harry (Maurice Ronet) visits them with his daughter Pénélope (Jane Birkin), Marianne invites them to stay for awhile at the villa but tension and jealousy immediately raise and… I don’t want to spoil anything, in case you never saw this film.
Every fashionista should watch “La Piscine”, even more than once.
The costumes were designed by André Courrèges, the French designer who left us last January. Courregès is one of the most important and influential fashion designers in history. He was the first to present a pantsuit, he invented the miniskirt (in fact many insiders credit him and not Mary Quant with designing it) and promoted tights, which allowed women to wear the miniskirt even in winter. We owe to Courrèges the A-line dress, too, and much more. He was a true visionary.
Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin’s wardrobe in “La Piscine” is timeless and chic. You can put together the perfect summer style taking inspiration from their outfits.
Marianne’s wardrobe includes classic pieces, simple accessories and glamorous and sexy evening dresses.
Her daytime outfits are basic because she leaves the villa mainly to go shopping to the grocery, since she and Paul spend a lot of time on their own, far from the lively St. Tropez. She wears classic pieces like shirts, also used as loungewear and often with the collar turned up, pants in summer colors like white and blue and simple accessories like espadrilles, low-heeled sandals and a straw shopper. Her swimwear is simple and classy, she only wears black or white bikinis and one-pieces.
For the evening she always dresses up, sporting sexy backless dresses in pale colors or patterned fabrics and a colorful lurex dress.
Pénélope’s wardrobe is made of simple and basic pieces, too.
Paul and Harry’s wardrobe is not particularly noteworthy.
I’ve often wondered if someone would have shot a remake of “La Piscine”.
Italian director Luca Guadagnino shot “A Bigger Splash”, a film very inspired by the iconic one directed by Deray. The film was presented last year at Venice International Film Festival and it’s been released in US last May. The protagonists are Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson. Replacing two actors like Schneider and Delon must have been challenging, not only because they were one of the most beautiful on-screen couples ever (they also had a relationship but broke up in 1964) but for the expectations that a remake would have inevitably created. So I guess choosing a cast so different from the original one was pretty strategical.
In conclusion, “La Piscine” is a beautiful film. Its atmosphere, the unsaid things between the protagonists and their ambiguity, in addition to the charming location and the great costumes, make it a must-see film for every fashionista and all film lovers.
Sometimes a film has a line that is inevitably tied to it. A line like “Paris is always a good idea” or “After all, tomorrow is another day” (of course from”Sabrina” and “Gone with the Wind”). “La Piscine” doesn’t have a particularly unforgettable line but my favorite one is for sure “It is said that you never fail twice in a row”.
Here are other photos from the film.
This post is part of the series Fashion is a Film.
The image of the preview is via IMDb.